Saturday, November 30, 2019

What is on the Dec. 2nd Council Agenda: Raising water rates, permits to build a fence, new transparencies and communication requirements, and recognizing World Aids Day.

by Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, Dec. 2nd at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the Council staff analysis.

For those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along, the meeting are more interesting if you have the agenda and agenda analysis.  It is still not very interesting but more interesting if you know what the heck is going on. You don't have to watch it and yet you can still be informed however, because  I will watch it for you and then a couple days later post a summary of the most important Council actions and I will post a video of the meeting and highlight the interesting parts. Below is a summary of the agenda, highlighting what I deem to be the most important items.

Elections and Confirmations. There are sixteen appointments or reappointments to  boards and commissions to be confirmed, including the appointment of former mayor Bill Purcell to the Metro Development and Housing Agency. I suspect all will be confirmed without controversy. There is also an election by the council of one person for a seat on the Industrial Development Board, from nominations made by council members.  Seats on the industrial board are important to some people and sometimes the Council gets lobbied heavily to favor one candidate over another but the general public pays little attention to this. The Industrial Development Board can help favored parties.

Public Hearing. There is one resolution and 18 bills on public hearing.  These are mostly rezoning bills.  I don't closely examine rezoning bills and don't try to form an opinion of their merits. Usually the only people who care about zoning bills are nearby neighbors.  If I anticipate a bill to be controversial I will call attention to it and will point out a bill that is disapproved by the Planning Commission.  Also, I will point out zoning bills that have wider import than just the subject property, but purely local zoning bills I ignore.  These are the bills on public hearing of interest.

Bill BL2019-67  is one of those bills that changes a community from a zoning that allows two housing units per lot to a zoning that allows only one unit per lot. I understand the concern of those who want to keep their neighborhood the way it is but I oppose all bills of this type.  This has the detrimental effect of decreasing future density which leads to more urban sprawl and less affordable housing.  If we have less density, the cost of available housing will increase at an accelerated rate. I wish the Planning Commission would recognize this and disapprove bills of this type.
Resolutions. Most are routine things like approving contracts, accepting grants, appropriating the money to settle law suits, and approving signs overhanging sidewalks. These are the ones of interest.
Resolution RS2019-100 and Resolution RS2019-116  both involve the reallocation of funds that were originally intended for the Gulch pedestrian bridge to other purposes. These should pass without opposition.

Resolution RS2019-128 recognizes December 1, 2019 as World AIDS Day in Nashville. Last month we had a recognition for a Transsexual Day of Remembrance and of course in the summer we have the gay pride event and a resolution so honoring gays and it wasn't long ago the city erected historical markers honoring two of the earliest gay bars in Nashville. We are giving a lot of attention to gays in Nashville.   Aids, of course is a terrible disease and there is nothing wrong with recognizing a World Aids Day, but if we are going to do so, I think we should have Alzheimer's Day or Remembrance, and a Heart Health Day of Remembrance, and a Cancer Day of Remembrance, and a Breast Cancer Day of Remembrance and Autism Day of Remembrance, and Death due to Drunk Drivers day of Remembrance, and Aborted Babies Day of Remembrance, and Americans killed by Illegal Aliens Day of Remembrance, etc, etc..  There are 365 days a year and there are plenty of illnesses and causes and events worthy of a day of remembrance. 
Bills on Second Reading. These are the ones that I find of interest.
Bill BL2019-46   requires the Department of Water and Sewerage Services to submit annual reports to the Metropolitan Council. The reports include: 1. The Audited Financial Statements, including net position, capital assets, outstanding bonds payable, and other financial information. 2. The Annual Budget Review, including the adequacy of budgeted revenues to cover projected expenses and debt requirements. 3. Any other information deemed relevant by the director or upon request of the Council public works or budget and finance committees.

This is good as far as it goes.  I just hope the Council will read the reports and act if they need to do so. If they do, this might stop a future occurrence of what we are experiencing now, where the water department is out of reserves, needs a lot of infrastructure work and the water rates are insufficient to keep the water system functioning.

The problem with Water and Sewer is that they operate off of their own revenues so when the Council is putting together a budget they pay little attention to waste and inefficiency in water and sewer because even if they can cut their budget that does not free up money to spend elsewhere so as a result they get less scrutiny than other departments. I wish the Council would even do more than this to insure sound financial management at Water and Sewer.

Bill BL2019-77 would require the disclosure of the full cost of a project prior to submission of capital expenditure authorization legislation to the Metropolitan Council. Currently the  New sheriff's headquarters $17M over budget.  This is not cost overrun. We simply started the project $17 million short of the cost to complete it. That should not happen. This bill should prevent it.
Bills on Third Reading. 
Bill BL2019-31 would require a permit for all new fencing.  We have never required this before. I would want to know what problem this is trying to address before voting for it. It seems like more unnecessary government bureaucracy and cost to homeowners. I oppose.

Bill BL2019-43 (as amended) requires than any adverse notification about Metro's finances from the State be delivered promptly to members of the Council. The prior administration did not do so. This is a good bill.
Bill BL2019-45  raises water and sewer rates. It raises several different fees, raising water fees about 63% and sewer by a lesser amount. The rates would raise each year for several years, not all at once.  Unfortunately, this has to be done. We have a consent degree agreement with the Federal government to improve the system and don't have the money to do it and the State Comptroller says we have to do it. Also, improvement need to be made. More than 65% of Metro’s water pipes and 58% of the sewer pipes are over 40 years old.  I hope the Council will pursue changes at water and sewer so this situation does not happen again. Water and Sewer operate off of their own revenues and as a result do not get close scrutiny.  Since efficiency and cost cutting at metro water cannot benefit the general fund, they do not get the same oversight as would a regular Metro department.  In my view, changes should be made such that Water and Sewer has a board they have to report to and a member of the Council should be a member of the board.  
To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. It is also available live on Roku. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel.   If can stand the suspense and just wait I will post the video here and provide commentary.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Bill Hagerty guess speaker at First Tuesday, Dec. 3rd.

From Tim Skow:

When we meet on Tuesday, December 3rd, Tennessee will be just 8 mere months from selecting our NEXT US Senator.
[yes, the winner of the August Republican primary will be Tennessee's next Senator ! ]

On Tuesday, DEC 3 we will hear from US Senate candidate BILL HAGERTY. 
Ambassador Hagerty is the former TN Commissioner of ECD and until this summer was the Ambassador to Japan. 
Bill Hagerty
Amb. Hagerty is a man with an incredible record in both the private sector and while in public service. And as many of you know, President Trump announced his support before Ambassador Hagerty had even left his role in the Orient. 
More about Amb. Hagerty is available at his website: www.Meet Bill - Bill Hagerty for U.S. Senate

Many Tennesseans have yet to spend much time getting to know Amb. Hagerty. December 3 at 1ST TUESDAY will be your up close opportunity to get to know him and ask him directly about what you care about the most !  Make your plans and pass the word !
We expect a BIG crowd for this lunch event at Waller Law. 

As usual, its still $20 for Members and $25 for Guests. 
Secure seating for you and your Guests ASAP via our website shopping cart !

Tim Skow

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

How does the academic performance of Davidson County Schools compare with the academic performance of all State Schools?

How does the academic performance of Davidson County Schools compare with the academic performance of all State Schools? Pretty pitiful.

State of Tennessee (all public schools) academic performance

Nashville Davidson County Public Schools academic performance

For more data, including seeing how your child's school performs, follow this link.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

How The Tennessean and liberals promote the idea that we are undertaxed.

An article in today's Tennessean, "Analysis: Amid debate over Nashville budget, no avoiding conversation of raising taxes," summarizes a lot of what has been widely reported.  Nashville is spending more than it is bringing in, the current budget relied on a $41 million plan to privatize public parking and that deal is now dead, and Cooper is tying to fix the mess without raising property taxes.

One thing Cooper has already accomplished is getting the Music City Center to kick in more revenue to the city.  The increased amount however only comes to $2.6 million more than the previous agreement. We are a long way from a balanced budget. Before becoming mayor, as a council member, Cooper initiated the creation of the Blue Ribbon Committee tasked with finding $20 million in savings in the city budget by identifying inefficiencies, subsidies and other costs that can be trimmed.  The Blue Ribbon Committee is making progress but we don't know if they can reach that goal. Even if they do we are still short.

The article does a good job explaining the history of property tax rates and the revenue that could be raised by a tax hike. The article like many others focus on our modest tax rate of $3.155. The article points out that the Shelby County tax rate, the highest in the state by comparison is $7.77.  I disagree with those who claim we are under taxed.

In these comparisons, one thing that is lacking is an acknowledgement that we have much higher property values. I don't know how much higher, but I know that a house in Nashville would cost considerably more than the same quality and type of house in Shelby County or Knox County.  I don't have the time or means to document this point with examples but the information is available if one did the research.  I would be willing to wager that a  house in Nashville may be appraised at more than twice the appraisal of a similar quality and type and size home in either of these other counties.  A low tax rate applied to a million dollar home may still result in a bigger tax bill than a higher tax rate applied to a $400,000 home.

Another thing this is lacking is an acknowledgement that our higher tax rate covers most of the county. Most of these examples used by the press compare the combined city and county rate of another city with Nashville's combined Urban Services District and General Services District. The difference between the Urban Services District and the General Services District is not that much. As an example, the General Services tax rate in Davidson County is $2.755. The Knox County tax rate is only $2.12,  so a lot of people in Davidson County have a higher property tax rate than people in Knox County.

If the press wanted to enlighten rather than propagandize for higher taxes, the line of reasoning I have been presented would be examined and reported.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Nashville Republican Women Christmas luncheon

To RSVP and pay or for more info, click HERE

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Republican Christmas Party Dec. 17th

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Monday, November 25, 2019

Tn Dept of Ed Releases State Report Card for 2018-19

Press release, Monday, November 25, 2019, NASHVILLEToday, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn unveiled the state report card, an annual report designed to provide convenient access to the most important data and information about every school and district in Tennessee.
“Our goal is to provide Tennessee families, educators, community members, and public officials with information about the schools and districts they care about in a way that makes sense,” Schwinn said. “The report card is another opportunity for the department to continue seeking input, listening to feedback, and continuously improving as a result.”

The online dashboard for the report card features a variety of information about how schools are performing and addressing the needs of students – information that is critical to understand as the department seeks to set all students on a path to success under its new strategic plan, Best for All. Primarily, the information is broken down into six main categories, which are as follows:

  • Academic Achievement: Whether students are performing at or above grade level or whether the school improved from year to year;
  • Student Academic Growth: Whether students are making progress from year to year;
  • Chronically Out of School: Whether students are absent more than 10 percent of the year; 
  • Progress on English Language Proficiency: Whether students who are English learners are making progress;
  • Ready Graduate: Whether students are prepared for postsecondary education or career paths after they leave high school; and
  • Graduation Rate: Whether students are graduating from high school on time. 
While the information posted online will look similar to what has been released in the past, we have improved the display of information to make it easier to access and more user-friendly.

The rating system shown on the report card provides a score of 0.0 to 4.0 on each indicator, similar to a GPA, with 4.0 being the highest. Families can click through to see more information behind each rating.

To view the state report card, visit the State Report Card website.

For additional data on schools and districts, visit the Data Downloads page.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Sunday, November 24, 2019

A Thanksgiving Lesson

As we gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let’s not only remember the lessons of Plymouth — let’s commit to proclaiming the virtues of self-reliance, property rights and free markets more boldly than ever.  Otherwise we’ll have even less to be thankful about next year.

By Howard Rich — The Separatist Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in November 1620 began their new settlement utilizing overtly communist economic principles.  In addition to common ownership of the land, the Pilgrims farmed corn on a communal plot and divided their harvest evenly amongst themselves.

This is the theoretical Marxist utopia — minus indoor plumbing, NPR, MSNBC and portable electronic devices powered by Solyndra solar panels, naturally.  But did this early communist experiment work?  Did it succeed at putting food on the table?

Not according to William Bradford, an early Pilgrim governor of the colony best known today as the “Father of Thanksgiving.”

The communal arrangement initially employed by the Pilgrims was “found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort,” Bradford wrote in his journal, which was later compiled into Of Plymouth Plantation.

Why did this arrangement fail?  Because as has been the case from time immemorial, the equitable division of inequitably produced assets did not sit well with those whose labors yielded the harvest.
“For the young men, that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense,” Bradford wrote.

But enmity amongst settlers wasn’t the real problem encountered at Plymouth — it was a shortage of food.  In his book Mayflower: A Story of Courage Community and War historian Nathaniel Philbrick discusses how communal farming and common ownership produced a “disastrous harvest.”

Faced with the prospect of starvation, Bradford “decided that each household should be assigned its own plot to cultivate, with the understanding that each family kept whatever it grew,” according to Philbrick.  Not surprisingly this approach replaced infighting and starvation with harmony and industry — not to mention an abundance of food.

“This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content,” Bradford wrote.

In other words where top-down planning based on communist ideology failed — the enforcement of private property rights based on free market ideology succeeded.

“The change in attitude was stunning,” Philbrick writes. “Families were now willing to work much harder than they had ever worked before.”

“The Pilgrims had stumbled on the power of capitalism,” Philbrick added, noting that “although the fortunes of the colony still teetered precariously in the years ahead, the inhabitants never again starved.”

As the United States moves further away from its free market foundation this Thanksgiving, the example of Plymouth is worth considering.  It is a cautionary tale — a grim reminder of where the federal government’s present trajectory is going to take our nation.

Already the “fair share” policies of Barack Obama — who is making good on his stated desire to “spread the wealth” around — have failed to produce the promised economic recovery.  In fact America’s central bank is now printing money indefinitely as government’s debt and unfunded liabilities race past the threshold of sustainability.

The result of this “stimulus?”  Income levels are shrinking, joblessness remains chronically high and economic growth is anemic.  And lurking around the corner are massive tax hikes and the full implementation of Obama’s socialized medicine law — both of which will result in additional large-scale shifts from the “makers” to the “takers” in our society.

Incentivizing dependency has clearly failed to stimulate our economy.  From 2000-10, government’s cash assistance to the poor increased by 68 percent — after adjusting for inflation.  Health care assistance increased by 87 percent, housing assistance by 108 percent and food assistance by 139 percent — again, all after adjusting for inflation.  Still, poverty in America climbed from 11.3 to 15.1 percent during that time period.

Government efforts to combat poverty have produced more poverty, in other words — and based on the ongoing entitlement expansion, the worst is likely yet to come.

As we gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let’s not only remember the lessons of Plymouth — let’s commit to proclaiming the virtues of self-reliance, property rights and free markets more boldly than ever.  Otherwise we’ll have even less to be thankful about next year.

The mention of Barack Obama and the data brackets somewhat date this article, but the lesson is as true as ever.  The author is chairman of Americans for Limited Government.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories